Graham Durward From: Artforum International | Date: 4/1/1993 | Author: Perchuk, Andrew
(exhibit at Sandra Gering, New York City) 1993
Graham Durward's mixed-media exhibit at Sandra Gering in New York City examined the male identity by bringing to life its latent insecurities such as grotesque fantasies, existential physical realities and the impossibility of reaching role model status. This debunking of masculinity was presented with honesty, humor and an attitude hardly erotic.
In his recent work, Graham Durward takes on the archetype of the male artist-hero who derives his power from a manifest masculinity. Durward's earlier work reflected a fluid notion of male identity; his large drawing of a hermaphrodite, Untitled, 1991, transformed the body to emphasize the mutability of heterosexual and homosexual practices. Combined with his intentionally schizophrenic writings, which detail a polymorphously perverse sexuality, this work was located at the edge of identity--where identity begins to fragment. His more recent works question the tenability of culturally defined male roles.
The exhibition began by pumping up the male ego until it exploded in phantasmagoric emissions. Determinedly unerotic, these works depict neither a nude Ubermann nor Everyman, but, rather, a half-naked Durward, denying the pleasure to be found in mythologized images of masculinity. Weights, 1992, presents an inverted ziggurat comprised of small photographs of a topless Durward in skin-tight bicycle shorts striking various bodybuilder poses. In Panaroma, 1992, he appears with "exclusive" stenciled across the waistband of his shorts and a woman ecstatically sniffing his crotch. Durward's point is that these male fantasies, unpalatable as they may be, are not going to disappear, nor can they be wished away: they must be unapologetically confronted.
As part of this position of intentional provocation, Durward attempts to demythologize the artwork; these pieces are bluntly, banally made, with little thought given to presentation or craft. Snow Drift, 1992, a large mound of artificial snow heavily stained with urine, points to the act of physically marking one's territory as central to the masculine masquerade--with the inevitable tear shed at the white snow's loss of purity. Black Emanation, 1992, is a parody of one of Julian Schna-bel's black velvet paintings in which Durward has seemingly ejaculated on the surface and initialed each of the resulting rivulets. He aspires to the heroics of the '50s and early '80s, but at the same time the self-consciousness and historical perspective of his pieces acknowledge the absurdity of his efforts. Read the entire article hereSource: